By Matthew Little
|May 22, 2008|
China's communist regime could be behind a rash of angry, sometimes violent, protests in the United States and Canada, said a retired Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agent and expert on the regime's clandestine operations in Canada.
Meanwhile Chinese media appear to be covering these events in a way that channels emotion about the recent quake in Sichuan into animosity against the regime's critics.
In Flushing, New York City, on the weekend, Chinese people were reportedly heard being offered money to attack critics of China's communist regime while Chinese media closely recorded events.
Large groups of outraged Chinese people have gathered for protests, or counter-protests, in Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, New York, Madison and other cities. The protests often take place at human-rights events in which people raise awareness about the Chinese regime's human rights abuses.
This week saw an escalation of those protests when a mob of hundreds swarmed a small rally in Flushing where a group had a booth set up so that Chinese people could withdraw from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The mob shouted, spit, threw eggs and physically attacked the small group of volunteers that tended the booth outside the Flushing Library. Two attendants were assaulted after attempting to take picture of their assailants. Police arrested Guang Chen and Fu Ni following the attack.
The booth encourages Chinese people to withdraw from the CCP. In China many citizens are compelled to join the CCP out of fear or to gain material advantages. Since coming to power 60 years ago, the CCP policies are blamed for causing up to 80 million deaths in China.
But Chinese people in North America who rely on Chinese media, and people within mainland China, will hear a very different account of what took place.
On the video reports covering the Flushing protests released on the internet yesterday, Xinhua News, China's state-run news outlet, said Falun Gong adherents disrupted an earthquake relief donation activity and that is why they were swarmed. No mention was made of the violent attacks or arrests.
In a press release the Falun Dafa Information Centre said the Flushing attacks, coupled with aggressive coverage from state-run media in China, suggest that Beijing authorities are orchestrating these events, post-earthquake, as a means of channeling emotions against political targets.
It's a strategy the regime has employed continually throughout its reign. One of the booths attendants compared her experience that day to the Cultural Revolution, a strategy nearly tore China apart.
"If you had been there when the attack [in Flushing] happened, you would have been terrified," said Yi Rong, Vice Chairman of the service center to quit the Chinese Communist Party.
"It was as though the Cultural Revolution had started again because 'inciting one crowd to attack the other crowd' was a typical strategy used in China's Cultural Revolution… I felt I was no longer in the United States."
Yi said that although the CCP frequently manipulates nationalistic fury against political targets to divert Chinese people's attentions from domestic troubles in China, this is the first time she had seen this strategy used in the United States.
"This is a new lesson for the Americans," said Yi.
Edmund Erh, a computer engineer from Queens who volunteers at the booth said he also believed the mob was incited by the Chinese regime. Erh was attacked after trying to take a photo of men who were disrupting their activities. One of the men, Guang Chen, was arrested after police arrived.
When the mobs started appearing last Saturday, Erh heard Chinese man was heard to yell into his cell phone "Hurry! Bring more people over here. Each person will be paid $90."
Erh was one of two booth attendants who were assaulted after taking pictures of the people swarming the booth.
While Flushing is the most recent example, similar events have taken place across North America in recent months.
In Ottawa last April, around 2,500 Chinese students gathered at Parliament Hill to denounce Western media and Tibetan demonstrators following widespread coverage of the unrest in Tibet in March.
The students denounced western media as biased and "anti-China" for coverage that criticized how the Chinese regime handled the unrest. Tibetans were also denounced for protesting instead of being grateful for being "liberated" from the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is frequently vilified in Chinese media and described as a villainous slave driver.
A small group of Tibet protesters stood near the rally quietly holding Tibetan flags but were soon escorted away by police for their own protection after some of the Chinese demonstrators started swarming them and chanting, "Liar, Liar, Liar."
That scenario was repeated in Toronto where, besides yelling "Liar," pro-CCP demonstrators also yelled "Dalai Lama die."
On May 9th in Winnipeg, a group of around 30 Chinese students attempted to disrupt events marking the Global Human Rights Torch Relay, an international effort to raise awareness about China's human rights abuses in advance of this summer's Olympics
While speeches were given by a city councilor, an MLA, a rabbi and a human rights lawyer, the students shouted slogans, sang communist party songs and denounced the speakers as liars.
At a concert that followed the students were all photographed by a black-clad Chinese man who appeared to be friends with the students but not students themselves. One Chinese man said the students would get "extra credit" with the Chinese Communist Party for participating in the protests. That recognition can give their careers a boost or translate into other opportunities.
On April 19 in Madison, Wisconsin, hundreds of Chinese people waving the communist regime's flag also attempted to disrupt a Human Rights Torch Relay by singing communist party songs, jeering at rally participants and shouting slogans.
Similar events have played out in cities not just in North America but also in other countries, including Japan.
Some observers blame overseas Chinese media for the upsurge in outraged nationalism.
A report by the Jamestown Foundation published in 2001 found that after Hong Kong was returned to Beijing rule, the Chinese regime made a push to gain financial control or influence over overseas Chinese media. The report found that that influence resulted in Chinese media imitating mainland China's state-controlled media outlets.
Recent coverage of Tibet, Olympic protests and other controversial subjects by overseas Chinese media has largely followed Beijing's lead. Those reports depict the Dalai Lama as inciting violence in Tibet, Tibetans as being a liberated people with no just cause for unrest, and any criticism of the CCP as an attack on Chinese people.
A more recent twist has seen those media suggesting that any criticism of the CCP shows that the people involved, such as at the Flushing booth attendants, do not care about the earthquake victims in Sichuan. While the Chinese protesters often appear unorganized and mob-like, Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former intelligence officer and director of the Strategic Analysis Unit, Asia-Pacific for CSIS, Canada's spy agency, has said it is possible they may be directly coordinated by the mainland Chinese regime.
"It's totally, totally possible. There is too much organization to a certain extent to simply refer to it as something random," he said. "We know for sure that in the past the Chinese intelligence service partnering with the United Front Work department has been using, quite abundantly, quite often, the various student groups."
Juneau added that defectors from china have shed light on the regime's practice of using overseas Chinese students in this way.
"We also have several Chinese diplomats or Chinese intelligence officers who defected to the western world and basically share and confess that yes, this is happening, this is happening regularly where the Chinese student groups are not only controlled, they are specifically formed to be used by the Chinese intelligence services.
"So to have now, potentially these students showing up and acting on behalf of the Chinese intelligence service is not out of this realm. Does it mean that every student showing was necessarily in contact with an intelligence officer? No, probably not. They probably simply were influenced by a Chinese agent."